PH wants tariff on farm products scrapped
The Philippines will seek this Friday the removal of quotas and tariffs on its key agricultural exports such as bananas and pineapples under the first review of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (Pjepa).
“We will seek additional concessions. We will push for the removal of tariffs on bananas, pineapples, yakitori, tuna and skipjack. Most of these products are of relevance to Mindanao, meaning they are largely produced in the region. These products are currently covered by the agreement but the preferential tariffs we got [under the] Pjepa are more inferior compared to the latest FTAs signed by Japan,” Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo said in a briefing Monday.
“It is critical for us to get [the concessions] for agricultural products,” he added.
According to Rodolfo, the Philippines would urge the removal of quotas on chicken, for instance, so local exporters could ship more of such products to Japan. The same goes for pineapples, which are subject to a quota, and bananas, which are slapped with seasonal tariffs.
Seasonal tariffs means Japan slaps higher duties on products such as bananas during the months that these are “in season” or are being produced there. Lower tariffs are granted on other months.
Rodolfo had said that the Philippines was already breaching the quotas set under the Pjepa. Since the demand for local produce has seen significant increases over the past years, the export volumes have risen as well and are already starting to breach the prescribed quotas.
Japan, meanwhile, is expected to seek additional concessions or the removal of tariffs for industrial goods such as petrochemicals, steel and cars that have a cylinder capacity below 3000 cc, which are currently subject to a 20-percent tariff.
It is hoped that this review will further boost the country’s trade surplus with Japan.
According to Rodolfo, the Philippines’ trade surplus with Japan stood at $1 billion in 2009 when the Pjepa entered into force. This trade surplus grew to about $7 billion last year.
Starting 2016, the Philippines enjoyed zero duties for more products that are being exported to Japan as provided under Pjepa.
“Immediately upon Pjepa’s entry into force, 80 percent of Philippine exports to Japan, consisting of 7,476 products, became eligible for zero tariff. Starting this year, the Philippines would be enjoying zero duties for 7,839 tariff lines or about 84 percent of Japan’s tariff lines,” Senen M. Perlada, director of the export marketing bureau at the DTI, said in an earlier interview with the Inquirer.
“These products include garments and textiles, furniture, food products, minerals, metal manufactures, machinery and equipment parts, electronics, chemicals and motor vehicle parts,” Perlada said.
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